One after the other, the groom's best friend, aunt and Ami's mother called. All but her mother, were asking the same questions, irrated at times and seeming concialatory right after. She was a though negotiator. She remained calm at all times, getting on their nerves even more. Her mother was silently proud but she called to ask her to be reasonable in her demands and cut a deal. The aunt called immediately after having been reassured by Ami's mom that they will surrender the bride.
"Ami. Where is the bride?"
"Not so fast auntie. You need to pay up first. 7,000CFA francs" said Ami very assertively. Why 7,000? She didn't know but does that's what she wanted. Her friends were in awe.
Ami's mother wished she were as just like her daughter in many ways. She would always regret that her own upbringing made her too submissive and too respectful of anyone older, especially the ones who took that as an opportunity to hurt her. Now as an adult, she was also too guarded to the point of being what she herself characterised as emotionless most of the time and she was proud of her daughter for not being her in that sense. She admired that she was nice but very confident and spoke her mind when she needed too.
"You lost your mind, daughter. No one has ever paid this kind of money for ransom."
"I think you'll be the first, auntie. Can you call us when you have the full amount?'' she calmly asked the voice at the end of the line.
"Eh, eh, eh!" She heard the older lady exclaim. "Today's kids have no respect for neither their elders nor traditions. Look at this one, holding up a wedding for money!" she seemed address someone around her.
"Auntie, with all due respect, this is also part of our traditions. I respect you but we are the brides friends and we are entitled to compensation for loosing her. So our money..."
The groom's aunt realized that threats will not work in this case. She tried manipulation.
"2,500CFA when you bring the bride back or tell us where to find her. When I have her picked up and you girls get your money."
"Auntie, I respect you. 6,000CFA, nothing less."
The old lady was given 5,000CFA by the grooms family earlier that morning to face any demand for ransom. She was hoping to bargain down so she could pocket some of that money. Unfortunately it looked like she got the wrong adversary this time.
"3,000 is all you'll get."
"Then Auntie," Ami said calmly, "call me when you have all the money and I'll send someone to get it." She hung up and all the girls were still "high-fiving" and chatting when the cell phone rang again. This time it was one of the groom's friends. The aunt had asked for more money and they have it. The old lady badly beaten and bruised by Ami's negotiating skills decided to remain out of the rest. The girls made arrangements to have one of them walk fifteen minutes away to receive the money. Once she did, she'd let the search party know where to find Mariama and alert her friends.
Half an our later, the bride was rushed back in a dusty taxi to her house, sandwiched between two older ladies in the back sit and one of the groom's friends in the front beside the driver.